Mercedes Wilson of Buffalo, NY recently released her book, HOPE: How Faith Carried Me Through My Darkest Hours and we wanted to share with you an excerpt from her incredibly moving journey.
We think it has so much to do with Hope Rises' mission - igniting HOPE through stories of love, compassion strength, and goodwill.
In the book, you will learn that Mercedes encountered many challenges, and many of those challenges quite difficult to comprehend. But, it's through her faith that she was able to rise up and become one of her city's strongest leaders.
It was through her faith, and hope in a better future, that she was able to heal from the unthinkable.
"My young life became all about finding validation for my existence. I just needed someone to do something with this hurt that was on the inside.
My sources of relief were music and writing. I started writing poems that described my pain. I got rid of a lot of them for fear of someone finding them and learning of my innermost, sometimes scary, thoughts.
A young person’s life can be forever effected by a sexual predator that people don’t give a second thought to. Someone that no one among your life circle might realize is capable of such tremendous harm. A delivery man, a coach who crosses the line, the harmless neighbor next door ... no one among my family or friends knew the identity of my abuser. We have all seen the television episodes that show unimaginable things happening to ruin the innocence of a child. These types of acts are something that I could never understand, but it was my reality.
I was made to put my hand down his pants, and the same was done to me. I was asked to get undressed and walk in front of him, to kiss this adult as if I were one myself. Disgusting is an understatement of what I experienced. I needed a hero—a protector—and it seemed as though I was all alone. I often daydreamed of someone saving me.
These experiences changed the very core of who I was. I had always been an outgoing child (I had the nickname of Motor Mouth Mercedes), but after this I became depressed and all I wanted to do was sleep.
When I was about thirteen years old, I met a woman named Melissa, who gave me something positive in my life to focus on. She saw something in me. She encouraged me to make the merit roll in school and promised to take me out for lunch or dinner as an incentive. I worked hard to hit merit roll and once I did we went to eat (Anyone that knows me knows that I love great food and company)! Spending time with her taught me a few things, one of them being her faith.
She had a past—a deep, dark past—and she shared with me how she was forgiven by God. When she told me her story, something connected with me. That deep-rooted pain that I could not describe before finally had a voice.
She invited me to church with her, and when I walked in I remember seeing a woman pastor and she was full of fire as she preached. Near the end of service, I had no clue what drew me to the altar, but when I got there, all I could do was fall to my knees. For the first time in a long time in my short life, I felt hope. I felt understood in a way that validated my existence. I was no longer rejected in this setting, and the pain that I felt was understood.
I didn’t stand up from the altar a renewed and changed young lady; rather, I stood up with the strength for the journey.
The thing about running from your past into your future is that success doesn’t happen that way. While on the journey to being a better you, you have to change your mindset and allow time to heal from things before pursuing something else. I thought that I would be different than every other woman who tried to run from her past into her future; I had it mapped out, and I just knew my way would work.
Even with all of the pain that I felt, there was always this thing on the inside of me that told me to hold on....that more was to come. I held on to that with all that I had."